Pa. budget talks center on schools and pensions

     Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says budget talks with Republican legislative leaders have been 'productive.' (AP file photo)

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says budget talks with Republican legislative leaders have been 'productive.' (AP file photo)

    There are glimmers of progress, but no specific examples of agreement after two straight days of budget meetings between Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania’s legislative leaders.

    The latest round of discussions has focused on education funding and proposed changes to state and school pension benefits.

    “These are the two issues that we’ve been focused on in the last two days, and we will continue to work through them until we have an agreement and can get to the other items,” said Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed.

    After those two issues are addressed, he said, leaders will move on to the web of other budget-related disagreements – new taxes, property tax relief, and the fate of the state’s liquor system.

    Wolf said recent negotiations have been productive.

    “I know I’ve always talked about progress in a very generalized sense,” said Wolf. “I think there’s some good conversation here – frank exchange of views – but we are, I think, moving in the right direction.”

    The state budget is nearly a month and a half overdue.

    Wolf’s office said he remains committed to a historic $400 million increase in education funding.

    Republicans who control the Legislature have resisted the tax hikes it would require. They have been more interested in scaling back pension benefits and dismantling the state liquor system.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.